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America Being Driven Over the Fiscal Cliff by the Monumental Cost of the Military

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As the various actors in Washington's latest theatrical presentation of "The Fiscal Cliff", once again take their places on stage, the majority of the American people have this feeling that they have seen this play before; in fact, more times than they would have liked. This is a play that has the same fabricated plot, the same old actors, all leading, without a doubt, to the same contrived ending.

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While there is a great need for this government to enact legislation that would substantially increase the tax on the wealthiest of Americans to avoid going over the cliff, this article will concentrate on the one option that I believe holds, by far, the greatest potential for reductions in government spending. It is the staggering, completely out of control spending on the military and security that so far has been declared off-limits.

Does this country need a powerful military to safeguard the security of the American people and defend it against potential attacks by rogue nations? Absolutely, without a question, we must always maintain a powerful military. America, in my opinion, also has a responsibility to be a leader in maintaining peace and stability in the world but that does not call for it to continue to dominate it. It's time for this government to stop acting like the policeman of the world with an expanding empire whose massive costs can no longer be sustained.

There are very competent, knowledgeable individuals within the military establishment that agree with this premise and have presented concrete recommendations for making changes that will maintain the military's strength but that will not lead America into financial collapse. It's time for President Obama to listen to these voices of knowledge, experience, logic and reason.

Mr. Obama would do well to read this article, "Generals: Get real and cut Pentagon spending" presented by two highly respected retired generals, Robert Gard and John Johns. It's among the very best I have ever read. Here is an excerpt from that article:   "Today, the use of manned aircraft is more and more limited. Our leaders must have a serious debate about priorities: America needs political resolve to kill unnecessary and expensive projects."

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Here is a great example of what these generals are talking about. The development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, now in its twelve year, has been budgeted at $396 billion, including research and development. The plan is to build 2,443 by the late 2030s. The military is also desperately trying to figure out how to reduce the long-term costs of operating the planes going into the future, now projected at $1.1 trillion; to spend that monumental amount of taxpayer dollars on just one weapon in the massive U.S. military arsenal is a perfect illustration of how out of control this nation's military machine is.

And here's yet another example of a tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars. The F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jet is the single most expensive fighter jet in history at a total acquisition cost of an estimated $79 billion for 187 planes, meaning each plane costs approximately $420 million.

What exactly is going on here? The last time that any U.S. fighter jet was involved in any kind of dogfight with some other foreign aircraft was back in 1981 when two American F-14s shot down two Soviet jets flown by Libyan pilots over the Mediterranean's Gulf of Sidra. At a time when a growing number of military analysts are predicting the eventual demise of aircraft carriers due to their extreme vulnerability to deadly, highly sophisticated missiles, we have the U.S. spending hundreds of billions on thousands more fighter jets?

I'm certainly not saying that the military should not develop new jet fighter planes to defend this country. But what we are seeing happen with the U.S. military machine is complete overkill, a bloated budget, policies and programs that simply defy logic and reason.

These insightful generals also said: "Sadly, defense spending is driven by political interests, not necessity. In his 1986 book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, Paul Kennedy argues that great powers fall by bankrupting themselves to rule extensive empires." These military leaders are obviously students of history as it is a fact that every empire in the history of the world has collapsed at some point and the primary cause is that they have destroyed their financial foundations. America is now on the road to that same fate.

What we don't need in America is a military war machine that has over 1000 bases in 130 countries. We don't need a hubristic agenda that has turned the Department of Defense into the Department of War. We don't need to have thousands upon thousands of troops stationed in Germany, the U.K., Spain, Italy, Korea, Japan, and numerous other nations.

We don't need and cannot afford to wastefully spend $1 trillion annually on the budgets of the Pentagon, Homeland Security and other associated agencies. In contrast, the next 14 top military spending nations in the world have a combined total of $711 billion. China and Russia, who may pose the greatest threat to America at some time in the future, together total $215 billion. That is astounding, simply beyond comprehension but that's reality.  

It is the height of irresponsibility for our politicians, bureaucrats and facilitators of perpetual war to continue to condone and protect the monumental size and waste involved with this mega-military and, at the same time, call for spending cuts in this nation's most important social programs. What we have here is a very well-crafted plan to provide a continue stream of taxpayer dollars into the coffers of the many defense industry corporations that thrive and prosper on war and empire.

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The American people have, in effect, been taken hostage by the Military-Industrial Complex which is pushing this country over the financial cliff and into eventual financial insolvency if we don't put a stop to the waste. To keep spending $1 trillion annually with money that is being created out of the air by the Treasury Department's printing presses and borrowing from China is ludicrous. This article by Chris Hellman and Mattea Kramer provides an excellent analysis of the spending for the military and associated agencies.

The American people should be incensed by this horrendous waste of their money but they remain silent and passive and afraid that if they speak out that they will be labeled as unpatriotic and even traitors. That's a result of many years of being exposed to mind conditioning by the government and the media to blindly support the military no matter what it does.

This entire discussion and debate about going over the fiscal cliff seems to be devoid of rational thinking. The lame arguments go back and forth, over and over again, with the same monotonous positions being taken by the opposing sides. While it has been said time and time again that Social Security has nothing to do with the national deficits because it functions on its own and is administered outside the government budgets, the Republicans keep bringing it up in the discussions.

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Michael Payne is an independent, progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues. He is a featured writer on Opednews and Nation of Change and his articles have appeared on many other websites (more...)

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